Wednesday, April 25, 2007

No meat in poaching probe yet


Times of India By-Sourav Mukherjee


GANDHINAGAR: It is like a murder case where the bodies are missing. It is over a month since the first lion remains were found in the Gir wildlife sanctuary, more than 70 persons have been detained but the lions’ claws, bones and flesh are as yet untraceable.


Apart from recovering the pelts, paws, entrails and a couple of lion claws police investigations have hit a dead-end. Clothes with blood stains, spears and bloodcaked stones have been recovered which will link the poachers to the crime but we still need to know what happened to the eight lions’ flesh and bones, said a CID official.


Adult Asiatic male lions typically weigh between 160-170 kg of which the bones weigh approximately 130-140 kg. Once the lion is trapped, speared and bludgeoned to death the poachers would have to cut it into smaller pieces and then transport it out of Gir sanctuary. In none of the sites in Gir or Bhavnagar where the lion remains were recovered were the flesh or bones recovered, said a police official investigating the case.


The missing lion body parts have now become an enigma for the investigators. It is not possible that the flesh was left to rot at the spot where the lion carcasses were cut to pieces, or we would have found them, said sources.


Investigators are working on two possibilities: That there are experts among the poachers who can dismember carcasses, pack them in neat parcels and smuggle them out in refrigerated containers; or that the flesh was carried off with the bones and disposed elsewhere.


But, the second possibility is remote as lugging a dead weight of 170 kg, even in small consignments, would slow down the poachers. But the police have no material evidence to support these theories yet.

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